driving conditions in Banff

Feb 10th, 2004, 10:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 9
driving conditions in Banff

My husband and I are planning a trip to Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper in June for about 7 days. I've looked at the recommendations from this forum but still have the following questions:

1. We understand the road system in Canada, especially when there's no snow, is quite good. Although we are experienced drivers, but we rarely drive, and my husband is used to driving on the right side (from Hong Kong). Are there a lot of 'difficult roads'? - i.e. easy to get lost, unclear road directions, mountain roads, narrow roads, one-ways, etc.?

2. If the roads are difficult (Icefield Pkway?) and we would like to join a tour operator for the long drives, which tour operator would you recommend (I'm just overwhelmed by the options from the internet!)

3. We have a choice of arriving into Calgary and leaving in Edmonton, or vice versa, would it be recommended we do so, supposedly that we do not have to spend the extra time going through the return drive on the Icefield Pkwy? (this would be a non-issue, of course, if we were to join a tour)


balienquiry is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 04:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The roads are not especially difficult, and they are well-marked. You should have no problem driving. The Icefield Parkway is pretty strightforward. It would be hard to get lost.
Molly2 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 04:36 AM
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I recommend you drive yourselves. The roads through the mountains are well surfaced, well sign posted, and easy to drive.

You could certainly land in Calgary, drive through Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper, and take off from Edmonton. That would be a valid route.

On the other hand the scenery from the Icefields Parkway looks different when one is driving northwards and southwards, so some people choose to drive that route twice. The return drive from Jasper to Calgary is doable in a day.

Something to take into consideration when you choose Calgary or Jasper as entry / exit points for the mountains is that Calgary is closer to the mountains than Edmonton is.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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i'd personally arrive in calgary and exit from edmonton. might as well see as many different things as possible. however, the road from jasper to edmonton is about 3 1/2 hours and most of it is pretty dull but it is a quick, easy, wide highway. if you like to shop in malls, there is a very large one in edmonton that is interesting if that's your type of thing. includes a large waterpark, miniture golf, skating rink, roller coaster and other rides, etc.
ltt is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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I have been there several times. You will need a map for Calgary and for Edmonton. Travel Alberta will be happy to send you a good road map of Alberta with an inset for Calgary. The agency also provides a very good accommodations guide.

The Icefields Parway, once you get on it, goes all the way to Jasper with exactly one place where you can leave it: At a place called The Crossing.
From The Crossing to Jasper there is no way to east or west. So the chances of getting lost are virtually nil.

There are some short side roads to view points, but none of them go very far at all.

The surface of the road is good, and signs are easy to read. I would not worry about the highways.

My personal problem would be driving on the "wrong" side of the road!!
For that reason, I do not want to drive in Ireland!

I think driving yourself would be perferable to a tour. You can go at your own pace and enjoy it more. I have driven the parkway from south to north and north to south more than once. I always find it beautiful and interesting, even in the clouds.

I think you will enjoy yourself in Western Canada. I find the people to be friendly and hospitable. I have enjoyed quite a few visits out there.

brookwood is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Posts: 1,465
If you are still deciding about the direction of your trip, I would suggest arriving in Edmonton and leaving from Calgary. This has several advantages:

1. You complete the least scenic part of the drive at the very beginning (Edmonton to Jasper).
2. In my opinion, the drive from Jasper to Lake Louise/Banff seems more spectacular than the same drive in the opposite direction !!
3. Once you are in Banff, you are only a little more than an hour from Calgary (city limits not city centre), so - depending on the time of your flight out - you could spend some portion of your last day still enjoying the mountains.
Borealis is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 11:29 AM
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The airport in Calgary is on the north side of town, slightly east of center. It is easy to get to, I think.
The Barlow Trail goes straight to it.
The airport is one of the better ones I have used in my travels in Europe and North America.

Get the official map of Alberta. It is a good road map, and has a good inset map of the major roads in Calgary. You will spot the airport easily to the north and slightly east of the city center.

brookwood is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Yes the airport in Calgary is in the northeast quadrant on the northern "tip" of the city.
It is easy to find, and easy to drive to (unless there is rush hour traffic).
As a matter of fact, if you are driving on highway 2 (the one that goes north to Edmonton), you drive right under the landing path for many flights. It is really neat - you almost feel that you could reach out and touch the descending plane as you drive under it!!!
Borealis is offline  
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